Bluebonnets have been heavily promoted and even mythologized in Texas, but all that acclaim, however warranted—up to a point—has had the unintended consequence of taking attention away from many other wildflowers that should be better known. Some of those can also form large colonies, two examples being the greenthreads and firewheels you saw earlier this week. Today’s post introduces another one, prairie verbena, Glandularia bipinnatifida. On the overcast afternoon of March 27th I found this huge colony, only a part of which appears in the photograph, on US 290 just east of US 281 in the Texas Hill Country south of Johnson City.
“Okay, we’ve got all that, including the wow factor, but what are we supposed to make of the bellicose title of today’s post?” I’m glad you asked. Unfortunately the vertical green plants mixed in among the verbenas are a type of European thistle. The native verbenas are doing a good job of checking them, but there’s a continuing war in which the various species that evolved here are fighting against invasive ones from elsewhere, usually Eurasia. The battle you see taking place has been going on for some time, and the relative strengths of the two adversaries are about the same as I remember seeing them some half-dozen years ago in this very field. Come on, verbena, do your thing and drive out the invader!
© 2012 Steven Schwartzman